Great questions, and the answers are complex.
Let’s start with how COVID has effected the supply chain. There are a LOT of parts to furniture, generally there is wood, steel, foam, feathers/down, fabric, thread, glue, special nails, and sometimes other materials. They come from all over the world and they supply to ALL of the upholsters world wide.
Production is limited by the number of looms, the capacity of the drum to stone wash the fabric, and how many days production is shut down due to COVID closures, or even outbreaks of the disease in the various facilities.
All of our vendors and their suppliers are working the max number of people and hours allowed. Any stock on hand was shipped out in the beginning of the pandemic and now everyone is racing to catch up. Some product is returning faster than others, but some will take quite a bit longer for reasons connected to capacity. For example, there is just one facility in France that can stone wash fabric - and they can only do a fixed amount per day with their five, 100 year old machines. There is no rushing this process and every mill in the world who stone washes with this technique is lined up to have their fabric processed. This mill had to shut down due to a Covid outbreak and when they re-opened they had a smaller staff and huge backlog.
Couple all that with increased orders, as many people have been sitting in their homes and focusing on upgrading their interiors and ordering furnishings/interior products, creating a higher demand for a limited resource.
Once all the components arrive, the actual manufacturing of the furniture is taking about the same amount of time is always does, as long as the workforce stays healthy (one of our factories had an outbreak a few months ago and had 143 people out sick with covid at one time!).
After the furniture production and boxing is complete, then the next frustrating phase begins. Cross country freight!
Furniture travels in trucks that haul LTL load (Less than Truck Load), so your sofa may be on a truck with product to be dropped off anywhere along the way to Seattle - and we are the last stop on the road. Because we are the last stop, our choice of carriers is very limited and there is really just ONE affordable freight carrier that comes to Seattle regularly and of course they have a driver shortage. Many of their older drivers just simply retired when COVID hit because their risk was just too high. Not many young people are dreaming of a career as a long haul trucker, so the rest of us wait as our product sits on loading docks waiting for a driver to become available.
Once it arrives at the Seattle area terminal in Puyallup, it can take another week or more before they deliver it to the receiver. Once at the receiver, they have to un-box, inspect, (sometimes make small repairs) and schedule to deliver to your client/home, which can take another two weeks or more.
All of this together means we are in constant communication with everyone, checking availability of components and begging to get our orders onto trucks with drivers.
SO - here is the timeline….of an order right now with no delays.
Week 1 - You place your order, and we issue POs to the vendors.
Week 2 - the vendor enters the order into their system and place orders for components. (some fabrics are woven to order, and so it can be up to 12 weeks for them to arrive once they are ordered……).
Weeks 3 - 6 - Components arrive and are staged at the plant. Frames are made and covers are cut and sewn.
Weeks 6-9 - Components are assembled, the pieces are finished, inspected, photographed, boxed for pick up.
Weeks 9-10 - The Bill of Lading is generated and the freight carrier picks up the piece.
Weeks 10-12 - Your piece makes its way across the country, sometimes stopping many times for other items to be unloaded and reloaded. Your sofa can also be transferred to another truck several times.
Week 11-13 - Your item arrives at the Terminal and is transferred to the Receiver. The receiver prepares your sofa for delivery by un-boxing, removing packing material and fluffing the fabrics and pillows.
Week 12-15 - You are placed on the waiting list for delivery. Some of our delivery companies are booking a month out. Once your delivery is made, your long awaited piece arrives and is set up in your home for your enjoyment.
We hope now it’s clear why a typical 8 week lead time has almost doubled.
This timeline just references upholstered product. The same type of issues are happening for case goods.
How long will this go on? - We have no idea, but we are hoping to be back to 8-12 week production times before the end of 2021
What can any of us do about it? - You can have a couple of fabric choices up your sleeve in case your first choice is not in stock at the mill. You can also make clear choices up front so the order process starts out smoothly here. After that, please trust everyone is doing all they can to expedite your order, and EVERYONE’S order. They don’t get paid until it’s finished, the freight carriers and delivery companies are paid after the service is finished, so they are moving as fast as they can to get paid.
We are also tracking all of the orders, answering questions as they come up and trying to keep things going as smoothly as possible. With the limitations right now, that’s really all we can do.
Are there any faster manufacturers? Not really. Everyone buys fabric from the same few mills, wood from the same supplier, etc…. It’s a small world after all.
Is anything in stock ready to ship? AH - that’s the right question!!! There are a LOT of options in stock at our vendors ready to go on a truck for you! Some of our made to order companies have things that were made for market, or they have made up items using discontinued fabric they had on hand. These are a really great option for instant gratification when you can be flexible with the details.
Alternately, some of our vendors manufacture overseas (mostly Vietnam, Indonesia and Serbia) and those items are warehoused in the US ready to ship. Contact any of us here at Brume + Adorn and we can help you find what you need to pull the details together.
RUGS ARE IN STOCK READY TO DELIVER! Our rug inventory, both here and in LA can be delivered to your client within a week. We have a vehicle to bring rugs to you. Bridgette can also request other rugs be shipped from LA and that generally only takes a couple of days for them to arrive. Rugs are a fantastic way to give a client waiting for things to have a small win to tide them over.
Bottom line - we have your back and will do all we can to get you what you need in the most timely way possible given the current situation.
Our best recommendation is to focus on quality, reminding the client that what they are getting will be with them for years and years to come. Also remember we are all just people doing our best; just like you. Compassion goes a long way when receiving news of unavoidable delays - nobody benefits from delays, but if people get sick, they have to stay home and sometimes the whole small business has to shut for a couple of weeks. We are almost to the end of the tunnel here…. and we appreciate everyone’s hard work and patience.